On Saturday the 14th of May, Wanna Internet started to experience an enormous amount of activity directed towards one of its customers.
The amount of traffic this activity was causing was analogous to imagining the Waikato Express way during the early hours of the morning and suddenly taking all the peak hour traffic from Auckland, Sydney and London and plonking them on the express way.
In order to protect customers and its network Wanna quickly closed it borders to the internet while they conducted an investigation into who/what where was causing this activity and could start the process of blocking the activity and restore normal service.
Working with international community the activity was shut down by a number of internet providers across the world, restoring services.
The activity in industry speak is known as DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack.
A DDoS is where the attack source is more than one, often thousands of, unique computers. It is analogous to a group of people crowding the entry door or gate to a shop or business, and not letting legitimate parties enter into the shop or business, disrupting normal operations.
Criminal perpetrators of DDoS attacks often target sites or services hosted on high-profile web servers such as banks, credit card payment gateways; but motives of revenge, blackmail or activism can be behind other attacks.
You may be thinking that thousands of real people are sitting at their computers performing the attack; the reality is that the bad guys have taken over those thousands of computers and instructed them to perform the attack.
So how do they take over all of those computers? By installing malware and viruses. Most of you would be aware of malware and viruses and some of them take the form of deleting your photos and precious documents, others encrypt your important files and hold you to ransom for financial gain to unlock them and others are used to hijack your computer as use it as a tool to perform attacks on others such as a DDoS.
The government has announced recently they are investing $22.2m which will enable significant advancement in the country’s cyber security infrastructure by creating a new national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to combat cyber-attacks and cyber-crime, however the government and providers like Wanna cannot do it alone, the internet is a shared ecosphere where the actions of some people can easily effect everyone else, so everyone has a part to play.
So how can you play your part?
Patch regularly. Update your software as often as you can. Studies show you can prevent 79% of all attacks simply by patching. Most modern software, like Windows, OSX, Adobe products, Java, and more have automatic patching programs. You should turn them on, and say “yes” whenever they ask to update.
Use antivirus and update it. It doesn’t matter which one you choose or whether it’s a free or full version, but use AV software and let it update automatically. Yes, this includes Apple users. AV software is like the hand washing of the computer age; you need its basic sanitation to help prevent the spread of infection.
Think before you click. Use common sense before interacting with links or attachments. Does something sound too good to be true? Are you wondering why someone sent you a file? Does the link look weird when you hover over it? If you’re asking yourself these questions, you probably should avoid clicking.
Secure your personal information. Make sure your passwords are changed regularly; be mindful of what you allow the public to see on your social media sites and posts, Identity theft is an ever increasing risk in our interconnected world.
I would like to apologise on behalf of Wanna Internet for the disruption to our services on Saturday night and personally thank all of our customers for their understanding and continued support. My team really appreciated the positive support they received during the event.
Sincerely, Jason Brand
Managing Director, Wanna Internet Ltd.